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Adding a healthy twist

avocado smoothie

Making dishes a little healthier doesn’t have to be an imposing task. Often, small but meaningful tweaks can help operators create better-for-you items that are still craveable.

A growing number of operators, for example, are focusing on fresher, nutrient-dense plant foods across the menu. Baum & Whiteman, New York City-based food and restaurant consultants, hailed the rise of "vegetable forward" restaurants that feature meat on the side as opposed to center-of-plate as a trend for 2016.

And since health means different things to different people, offer guests the option to customize, from build-your-own bowls or smoothies to giving customers a choice of sauce. And building snacks and small plates around proteins such as cured meats, cheeses, hummus, roasted chick peas and garlic-herb Greek yogurt dip are a good way to appeal to carb-conscious customers.

Breakfast eaters at Beatrix restaurant in Chicago, for example, have the option of substituting roasted salmon—packed with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and protein—for bacon or chicken sausage when they order eggs their way.

Consumers are also realizing that the “good fats” in nuts, avocados, olive oil and olives, when consumed in moderation, pay health benefits. In particular, avocados are rich in healthful fat as well as rich and buttery, so they’re a perfect way to replace ice cream in smoothies, add richness to soups and make simple toast a treat.

Operators can also try playing up the nutritional power and flavor appeal of whole and ancient grains. A conventional rice or noodle bowl can be transformed into a healthier—and potentially tastier—dish by swapping in a more nutrient-dense base such as brown rice, quinoa or farro or whole-grain noodles.

Take the duo of polenta-based porridges featured at Steadfast Coffee in Nashville, Tenn. Sweet Porridge is topped with maple, mascarpone, berries and pistachios. Savory Porridge sports roasted mushrooms, ricotta, spinach and garlic. An optional poached egg further ramps up flavor and nutrition.

This post is sponsored by Simplot

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